Hosenball n’ Isikoff: Panetta Wasn’t Talking About Torture
Thursday, July 09, 2009 at 5:13 pm
Great piece by Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff peeling back more layers from CIA Director Leon Panetta’s apparent concession that CIA misled Congress about unspecified “significant actions.” Their reporting finds, contra Sam Stein, that the actions in question weren’t about the “enhanced interrogation program,” but rather some other, still-classified covert program. That makes some sense: the apparent deceptions stretch back to 2001, which is before the CIA interrogation program took shape. So what’s this other program, then? Well, it … may not have gotten off the ground:
One question Congressional Democrats still want answered: Was the program an idea CIA officials had just talked about as a possibility, or had they actually put it into operation? If it was just talk, as some in the intelligence community insist, the argument could be made that there was no requirement to notify congress. “This program came in post 9/11, and it was indeed on again, off again, the official said. “You could argue that it never really took shape.” The implication is that whatever the details of the program, it carried risks that some officials at the agency strongly felt might not be worth taking.
According to Isinball’s sources (or, if you prefer, Hosenkoff’s), the program wasn’t about to be exposed in the media — this is a case of Panetta excavating the agency’s files and bringing something apparently alarming to Congress. Greg Sargent gets a similar reaction from a GOPer on the committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas): this is about something Congress didn’t know about.
Update: I should have seen earlier that Sam backed away from the torture-claim too.
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